November 02, 2020
Parents often find that with a new baby, time seems to warp. Some days with a sick or sleepless kiddo can feel like the longest of your life. But other days, you look at your (not-so-little) little one and wonder where the time has gone.
Weaning your baby from night feedings can feel like one of those times. You may feel excited about the potential for longer stretches of sleep and simultaneously wonder if your baby is ready for this transition.
While all babies are different, there are a few key things to know about when, how, and what to expect when night weaning. Here is the essential information you need to learn if you’re considering weaning from night feedings:
Here are a few indicators that your baby may be ready:
Be sure to discuss with your doctor or lactation consultant to make sure your baby is getting enough nourishment and is ready for night weaning. If your baby is sick, in a growth spurt, or teething, it might be best to wait a little before you start to wean.
If you’re looking to start night feeding, here are some tips for success:
Even if your baby is at a weight and age where they no longer need feedings, if they aren’t eating enough during the day, they may use night feedings to supplement. Ensure that they’re making up for less ounces at night by longer feedings or more ounces per feeding during the day. You may need to adjust your regular feeding schedule for this. Some parents like to do a dream feeding right before they go to bed.
Babies at this stage are often looking for comfort to get back to sleep. You can go in and offer a pacifier or pat on the back instead. You can help your baby learn to self-soothe by giving them a chance to get back to sleep, or fall asleep themselves at the start of the night, on their own. When you do go in for night feedings, try to keep the interactions brief and don’t linger.
If your baby has poor sleep, they may wake more often. Set your baby up for success by helping them get longer rest. If they wake themselves with their startle reflex, a swaddle transition product such as the Magic Sleepsuit can reduce the frequency of unnecessary wakeups.
Taking it slowly will likely make it easier on your baby, and on you. If you are breastfeeding, a sudden stop can be painful and put you at risk of mastitis. Reduce the length of time of feedings and gradually space them out longer. To ease pain, you can pump before bed, and at night if you need to. If bottle feeding, focus on reducing the number of ounces fed at night or increased time between bottle feedings.
The process will be different for every family depending on your baby and you as parents. Know that for most babies, weaning from night feedings takes some time. Don’t expect immediate results, and make sure to give it a fair try.
It’s important to know that weaning from night feedings can be hard for parents as well. It may be uncomfortable for you to hear your baby be frustrated and cry more at night initially. If you are consistent with your schedule, it will help your baby to get through this more quickly. But that being said, it’s okay to make adjustments as you go. You can always take a step back and move more slowly if you need to.
Weaning off of night feedings can look very different for different families. Some babies adjust more quickly than others. Other families may decide not to night wean at all. If you feel your current schedule is working for you, don’t feel a need to force it because your baby is a certain age. Make sure to discuss with your doctor throughout the process, as they can give you more personalized advice.
It's important to be patient with yourself and your baby. Ask a partner for help to take turns going in at night. Talk to other parents with kiddos in a similar stage. By helping your baby to be less dependent on night feedings, you can help them to get longer stretches of sleep and to learn how to self-soothe. And you can look forward to some more steady shut-eye yourself!
January 31, 2023
January 24, 2023
The team at NAPS helps you tackle the issue of early wakeups. *BONUS* NAPS is hosting a webinar on February 24th. Register here and use the extra-special code MAGICMERLIN and you can join the webinar FREE of charge!
The sound of cheery calls of “MAAAAMAAAAA” from the next room may be lovely at 7am. At 4am, or 5 am, not so much. Your baby may be up and ready to start the day, but you probably aren’t.
Answering the questions below may help you get there.
This might seem like an obvious question, but your baby’s sleep needs will change fast in the first few years of their lives. A quick look at the average nap number and duration might give you an idea:
Part of the reason you might be seeing earlier wakeups is that your baby has graduated from one nap cycle to the next.
We call this an “awake window,” and it can make a big difference. It might seem strange that your baby went to bed fine the night before, and you’re seeing a response to nap scheduling in the pre-dawn hours, but if your kiddo’s sleep is disrupted at night, it will impact the morning.
Black 0ut curtains can make a big difference here. Remember that our brains signal wakeup when the light changes. So if dawn is at 430am, and even a little bit of light comes into your baby’s room, their little brains will PING with wake up juice.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but a late bedtime can actually backfire on you. Overtired kids don’t sleep as well. If you made their bedtime later and it didn’t fix the problem, try an earlier bedtime and see if that helps. You might be surprised.
Try to make one change at a time; just one. Stick with that change for 3-5 days to see if it impacts things. (One night is usually not enough to see substantial change.) Be as consistent as you can with the change you made. For instance, if you decide to increase the space between bedtime and final nap wakeup, make sure to stick to the wakeup time you planned.
If your baby is waking up and chirping happily to themselves, feel free to leave them there for a little while. Let them get used to being alone in the crib. If you can, try to delay the start of the day by 5-10 minutes each day. This can make a big impact.
Everything else aside, remember that this is a short time in your kid’s life; as they get older, their sleep will become more regular, and so will yours. Don’t let yourself get too discouraged. Things are hard now, and you’re doing a great job.
January 10, 2023
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